I had to do it! Lady Gaga and Beyonce ‘Telephone’
In case all of you haven’t seen it yet… here it is: the LONG version of Lady Gaga and Beyonce’s C-R-A-Z-Y video for “Telephone”.
I had heard rumors that MTV banned this video, but seeing as it’s still on the website… (just minus the vagina scene)
ANYWAYS! I thought this video was a really important example of an intersection of queer and race in the arts. The video premiered about two weeks ago on the E! Channel, and after Lady Gaga made some brief comments that I think are pivotal to understanding Gaga. She talked about how the song is a ‘shallow pop song’ so she felt it necessary to make an extreme video as a social commentary. Beginning scenes in jail with a diverse range of characters could be read at many depths.
Although it is set in a presumably women’s prison, Gaga makes out with a fellow prisoner whose gender is quite ambiguous. Gaga has identified herself as bisexual, and i think its incredibly interesting in her interview with E! that she described her relationship as so special with Beyonce because “we both like women”. Gaga’s continuous refusal to be placed in a box surrounding her intimate relationships makes her incredibly interesting… no one can put a finger on her. What was the video saying by her make out sesh with the only prisoner who wasn’t obviously a woman?
What can be inferred by the fact that the prisoners in the ‘fight scene’ are Latina? The Majority of the prisoners in the ‘yard’ and in the scene where Gaga answers the phone are African American or Latina and a few Caucasian… but when she is dancing through the prison cells all of her dancers are white. Is this an aesthetic move or should we read into this as social commentary?
Although there is much to read in her video about our society, the intersection of queerness and race can be seen in her collaboration with Beyonce, the characters and extras in her video, and the fact of who gets to participate. Gaga makes out with a white person, and all of her dancers in the jail cells are white girls… yet Beyonce is the Bonnie to her Clyde or the other way around whatever. Sometimes I can’t figure Gaga out. We know where she stands in regards to queerness…but what does Gaga’s video say in regards to race? She is very queer positive, but such little nuances of who gets to make out with her and be her dances, could they say more about lack of race recognition?